El Paso 1949

Another good Western filmed in Cinecolor – which I quite like – and starring John Payne and Gail Russell.

This was shown on British Television this weekend

EL PASO – a Cinecolor Western starring John Payne and Gail Russell

The film is set just after the Civil War, when Clay Fletcher ( John Payne), a lawyer from Charleston, arrives in El Paso on business. Clay also hopes to reunite with his long-lost love Susan ( Gail Russell), who moved to El Paso while he was away fighting for the South.

El Paso is a lawless city run by Bert Donner (Sterling Hayden) and his crony Sheriff La Farge (Dick Foran). They keep Susan’s father, an alcoholic judge (Henry Hull), well supplied with alcohol and under their control as they scheme to use taxes to take control of local farms. Clay successfully defends a former friend (Arthur Space) on a murder charge after he kills one of Donner’s men in self-defence, but eventually Clay is forced into a situation where he has to to deal with the town’s criminals with guns rather than law books.

The climactic action sequence is a gun battle during a dust storm.

ABOVE – Gail Russell with John Payne

Gail Russell with John Payne made a few films together – this was a good one.

An interesting aspect of the film is its use of Cinecolor, a relatively inexpensive process. In certain films Cinecolor looks good — it works quite well in Randolph Scott’s  The Nevadan (1950) — and also in this one El Paso ( 1949 )

I remember the process being impressive in the Jon Hall ‘Prince of Thieves’ from 1948 and some later Roy Rogers films which, by then, had a bigger budget

Super Cinecolor followed which was even better.

The film has an excellent cast, including a small but colourful appearance by Mary Beth Hughes as a clever thief, “Stagecoach Nellie.” John Payne and Gail Russell do well in their roles, and their strong performances are central to the film.

There’s also an appealing turn by Eduardo Noriega as the friendly Don Nacho Vazquez.

ABOVE – John Payne and Mary Beth Hughes

The film starts out well and has an entertaining first half, which includes Vazquez training Clay in the art of being a quick draw.

ABOVE – A big finish at the film’s end

ABOVE – A rousing ending

BELOW – The Film Premier in Oklahoma City on 25 March 1949

Back stage waiting to appear at the premiere of “El Paso” in Oklahoma City on March 26, 1949 are (L-R standing) Paramount exec Duke Clark, actor Paul Hogan (husband of Helen Forrest), Frank Faylen, Eduardo Noriega, theatre manager George Spelvin, co-producer Bill Thomas, songwriter Harry Revel. (L-R sitting) famous songtress Helen Forrest, Mr. and Mrs. Gabby Hayes, Mary Beth Hughes, John Payne.

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The Lone Ranger

The origin of Lone Ranger’s story begins with a group of Texas Rangers chasing down a gang of outlaws led by Butch Cavendish. The gang ambushs the Rangers, believing to have killed them all.

There is one survivor however, who is found by an American Indian named Tonto, and Tonto nurses him back to health.

So the bond between these two was established

As we all remember the Lone Ranger was played by Clayton Moore – well most of the time it was because he had a contractual dispute with the Producers and the role for two seasons went to John Hart.

Viewers though wanted Clayton Moore back, so he duly was re-instated.

Jay Silverheels who played Tonto had been around for quite a while in films but this proved to be his most famous role by far. The very first episode went out in September of 1949 and the series carried on successfully through to 1957 – and there were a couple of Lone Ranger film releases along the way, in the mid 50’s

He had been in many films since before the War – one of them was ‘The Sabre and the Arrow’ in 1948 in an uncredited role among many others.

Clayton Moore

He was born Jack Carlson Moore, the son of a real estate broker, in Chicago. He performed in a trapeze circus act for several years, after learning acrobatics, tumbling and swimming as a teenager at the Illinois Athletic Club. One of his instructors there was Johnny Weissmuller, the champion swimmer who later played Tarzan in the movies.

An injury ended Moore’s circus career, and so this handsome athlete later became a John Robert Powers model.

He first appeared in films in 1938, playing bit parts and performing stunts in serials including “Dick Tracy Returns” (1938) and “The Perils of Nyoka” (1942). Nicknamed the “King of the Serials” for all the cliffhanger episodes he helped churn out to encourage return visits to cinemas, Clayton Moore first donned a mask in the 1949 serial “The Ghost of Zorro.”

His acting career, like so many, was interrupted by World War II where he served three years in the Army Air Force

A fan of the Lone Ranger radio series since its inception in 1933, Clayton Moore beat out 75 actors to become television’s version of the classic hero. When producer George Trendle told him the good news, Moore said he replied: “Mr. Trendle, I am the Lone Ranger.”

I also came across this interview with Clayton Moor’s daughter which is fascinating:-

As TV’s Lone Ranger in the 1950s, Clayton Moore was a hero both on and off the screen.

“I still get letters from policemen, firemen, and teachers who say they chose a career in service because of him,” said daughter Dawn Moore from Los Angeles. “He not only acted out the Lone Ranger’s Creed on TV, but lived it.”

The Creed, written by Fran Striker in 1933 for the original Lone Ranger radio show, was an ethical guide that emphasized friendship, respect, truth, God, country and, remarkably for the period, stewardship for the planet.

Clayton Moore receives his "Star" on the Walk of Fame in 1987. Dawn is behind him in the picture.

Clayton Moore receives his “Star” on the Walk of Fame in 1987. His daughter Dawn is behind him in the picture.  

“It’s important for me now to look back as an adult and understand that my father was not preachy,” said Dawn. “He led his life and really made his decisions each day on the Lone Ranger Creed. And that is really quite extraordinary parenting, leading by example. He didn’t tell me what to do and what not to do ever, so I made plenty of mistakes and he let me make them. But fortunately for me, my father was an excellent example to follow.”

Like many busy actors, duties on location sets would often mean sacrificing home time for Moore.

“He would be gone for two or three months at a time, but when he was home he was there 24 hours a day and was my buddy,” recalled Dawn. “That was just how our household worked, so I didn’t have any reason to question it. He would love it when my friends came over and would be out there playing with everybody, and giving them all nicknames. He loved children and was a big kid himself with a fantastic sense of humour.”

Clayton Moore passed away in 1999

Dawn Moore and father Clayton Moore at the 1990 National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Dawn Moore and father Clayton Moore at the 1990 National Cowboy Hall of Fame.  

As a child, Dawn didn’t even know her father had been the Lone Ranger until one day the pair went shopping for a television and the salesperson recognised his voice.

“I was eight or nine, and wondered how this stranger knew my father,” she recalled. “The show ended in 1957 so I never saw it growing up. And when we went out, no one recognised him because his character had always been masked.”

In addition to the one he had sold, Clayton Moore used two other masks on the show. One found its way into a private collection and Dawn donated the other to the Smithsonian after her father died, in accordance with his wishes.

“The original masks used on the show impaired Dad’s peripheral vision and he couldn’t see where to land after a fall. So the costumer made a mold of his face and created three felt masks which were covered with resin on the inside. But they were hot to wear.”

Clayton Moore’s clothes were also uncomfortable.

“They filmed the Lone Ranger at the Iverson Ranch, near Los Angeles, where summer temperatures were over 100 degrees,” explained Dawn. “Dad’s costume was made out of heavy wool and was skin tight.

Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto, wore an outfit of heavy suede. So these guys worked their tails off making the show

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October Moth 1960

Lana Morris and Lee Patterson are in this British Second feature which has a small cast

This film appears on an Edgar Wallace DVD release although it wasn’t originally one of the Edgar Wallace films – however it did have a film release in cinemas in the UK

It will be shown on Talking Pictures next week

Now to the Plot – Finlay ( Lee Patterson ) is a disturbed young man, who finds an injured woman following a road accident and takes her back to the farm he runs with his sister Molly. He thinks the injured woman is his dead mother come back to them. Molly tries to save the woman and also her brother but those two things are eventually incompatible. She is helped by Tom, a telephone engineer who works nearby.

This is a tense film with good and heartfelt acting by Lee Patterson, Lana Morris and Peter Dyneley.

The Director is John Kruse – a film well worth watching.

Lana Morris was married to Ronnie Waldman who, I remember presented ‘Puzzle Corner’ on BBC Television in the Fifties. He rose to the position of ‘Head of BBC Light Entertainment’ so he had a successful career

They had a son, Simon Waldman who is a BBC News Editor

This was one of Lana’s last films. Mind you, she was active long after this – she died whilst preparing to go on stage at the Theatre Royal in Windsor in 1998

This is pretty good although a low budget drama set at an isolated farm house. The action takes place over the course of one night at this house which is occupied by a frightened sister and her neurotic brother, played by Lee Patterson in a Norman Bates type role.

The very low budget budget is quite obvious from the outset, but the tension and drama makes up for that – Lee Patterson is excellent in the part

This Film was made at the Beaconsfield Film Studios and features on a very recent DVD Release as below

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Lee Aaker – Rin Tin Tin and more

Not a well known name – but a successful child actor

With John Wayne in ‘Hondo’

Lee Aaker
(September 25, 1943 – April 1, 2021)

Lee Aaker, who has died recently, will be remembered mainly for the Rin Tin Tin TV series – he played in 164 episodes between 1954 and 1959.

He also appeared in Hondo (1953, above) with John Wayne, High Noon (1952), Ride Clear Of Diablo (1954) and Destry (1954).

Also ‘A Lion in the Streets’ 1954 and ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ 1952

He is quoted as saying that when the long running TV Series ‘Rin Tin Tin’ finished he was, quite quickly, out of the public eye and not ‘the centre of attention’ anymore

Such is fame – a fleeting time in the spotlight – although in fairness his film acting career lasted from 1948 until 1963 – so a good run by any yardstick

In England in the early days of Television, one of the first American Shows was ‘Rex and Rinty’ and we all loved it – It was basically the same as ‘Rin Tin Tin’ but what surprised me was that this series was made in 1935 – so well before the US Television series mentioned here.

‘Rex and Rinty’ had been directed by Ford Beebe an extraordinary character with an incredible work ethic, who wrote scripts, directed films, acted in them, cut the film and prepared it for screening – more on him in a later post.

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Vivien Leigh ‘Gone with the Wind’

This is just about the most famous film of all time. Beautifully made in Technicolor and with an iconic cast.

Vivien Leigh perfect in her role as Scarlett O’Hara

ABOVE – Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara

Vivien studies the script

ABOVE – Vivien Leigh outside ‘Tara’ – a publicity still but a very impressive one

ABOVE – Scarlett looks unimpressed by Rhett’s affection

ABOVE Margaret Mitchell Centre laughs along with David O. Selznick, Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh and Olivia De Havilland

ABOVE Vivien Leigh shares a laugh with Director Victor Fleming

ABOVE – A pompous looking Laurence Olivier with the lovely Vivien Leigh probably in the grounds of the San Ysidro Ranch owned by Ronald Colman

He must have been seething with jealousy at her great screen success against his moderate film work. He did play the lead in ‘Rebecca’ only after Alfred Hitchcock was unable to acquire Ronald Colman for the role – who would have been perfect in the role. Olivier was ok though

Apparently Sir Laurence used to check the scripts that Vivien Leigh was sent and he decided which ones were suitable – as he saw it that is. She was a wonderful screen actress and in fairness, could turn her hand to anything offered

Later on he decided to direct the film ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ in with he starred with Marilyn Monroe. She was very much the star and with her in the cast you could guarantee a healthy Box Office

However, it is reported that the two stars did not get on well at all – with Sir Laurence heard to call Marilyn an unpleasant name

How dare he be so rude to such a great film star

ABOVE – The Prince and the Showgirl

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Dining at Denham

BELOW – This would be much earlier at Denham – in fact just before the War because Charles Laughton is in costume for ‘I Claudius’ in 1937.

Here he is seated and having lunch with Mary Pickford and Alexander Korda at the Denham Canteen

BELOW – This would be 1947 at Denham and again in the Canteen waiting to be fed. David Niven is in costume as filming of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ was well underway – it was released in 1948

It does seem as though all the staff and the stars waited for their meals in the Canteen – and this is a surprise to me because I would have expected Alexander Korda to have had his own private dining room. Maybe he did and this was just a publicity still – and it seems from the picture below that that was indeed the case.

When Denham Studios opened in May 1936 it was hailed as Britain’s largest, most up-to-date film studio, located on a 193-acre site on an estate called ‘The Fishery’ north of Denham Village in Buckinghamshire. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, it was celebrated as symptomatic of the revival of the British film industry, and of the rise of Alexander Korda’s London Film Productions, the company that built the studios with finance provided by the Prudential Assurance Company.

Denham was by far the largest of the film studios in Britain, but it was soon to be rivalled by J. Arthur Rank’s Pinewood Studios which opened just a few months after Denham in September 1936

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Sapphire 1959

Basil Dearden directed this Thriller which starred Nigel Patrick, Yvonne Mitchell, Michael Craig, Paul Massie, Bernard Miles and many stalwart and well known actors of that era.

Basil Dearden had directed some impressive films including ‘Dead of Night’ “The League of Gentlemen” and this one “Sapphire”

The film begins with the discovery of a dead woman in a park. However, this turns out to be anything but a routine case when the police investigate further. It turns out that the lady was pregnant. Secondly , for whatever reason, she was black and posing as a white woman. While this sort of plot might seem pretty routine today – back then in 1959 it was quite daring.

The film is very well written. Nigel Patrick did a first class job in playing the chief inspector- I remember him for two film roles particularly – one in ‘The Browning Version’ where he plays Frank Hunter a young teacher who is having an affair with Millie Crocker-Harris, the wife of teacher Andrew Crocker-Harris played by Michael Redgrave in one of his best roles and the other in more light-hearted mode when he played Mr Know-All in one of the story segments in ‘Trio’

Michael Craig is in the early stages of his film career with this film – he plays the Chief Inspector’s Assistant

Paul Massie and Michael Craig ABOVE

Yvonne Mitchell is also very good as a key witness, and Earl Cameron is outstanding as Sapphire’s dignified brother whose skin is closer to their mothers.

From him we get to see the indignities that an educated man must face because he’s a black doctor at that time

This is a film well worth seeing. It’s not surprising that the film won the BAFTA ( British version of the Oscar) for Best Picture.

ABOVE – Michael Craig and Nigel Patrick with Orlando Martins behind the bar

BELOW – Nigel Patrick here with Jean Kent and Michael Redgrave in ‘The Browning Version’ 1951

BELOW – Nigel Patrick as Mr Know-All in ‘Trio’

Michael Craig who is still alive today aged 93 started in films in the very early fifties and throughout that decade and the next he remained a popular leading man with his classic good looks helping him there.

One film he made early in his career in 1954 was ‘Svengali’ with the great Shakespearean actor Donald Wolfit who had been drafted into the leading role with only two week’s notice because the original star Robert Newton suddenly pulled out and flew back to the USA. One theory is that it was for tax reasons.

Michael Craig, though, was way down the cast list

I like Robert Newton and Sir Donald Wolfit as actors of that era. They were both Shakespearean trained stage actors who had gravitated into films quite successfully

Robert Newton had great success in ‘Treasure Island’ and after this failed ‘Svengali’ attempt – he went to Australia and made ‘Long John Silver’ and then a full television series by the same name which turned out to be very popular on a world scale – certainly on Television here in England

Donald Wolfit used his film earnings to help finance his Theatre tours which brought Shakespeare to the masses with great success.

He was much maligned by the likes of Sir Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson but he was at the very least their equal.

More on Sir Donald Wolfit another time

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The Hunters 1958

This film was on Talking Pictures today and, in truth I had no recollection of it at all, and yet it starred Robert Mitchum, Robert Wagner, Richard Egan and May Britt and was released in Cinemascope and Technicolor by Twentieth Century Fox – so it had all the credentials of a memorable one.

Also it had quite a big budget

There were some impressive action sequences and for the experts apparently, some of the best aerial scenes of conflict that we have seen on screen

ABOVE and BELOW :- Robert Mitchum rescues a colleague who is just hanging from his parachute in a tree

However they have been spotted by the Korean enemy and are pursued

Robert Mitchum pulls out his gun as the pursuers close in – but just at that moment a Sabre Jet comes out of nowhere and strafes the aggressors with bullets.

This was Dick Powell’s last film as a Director for 20th Century Fox

Robert Mitchum plays Ceve Saville, an older pilot looking to fly again. He becomes commander of an air squadron led by his old WWII leader, Dutch Imil ( Richard Egan).

Ceve forms his squadron with a young pilot, Lt. Pell ( RobertWagner), a gentler type, Corona (John Gabriel), an alcoholic, Carl Abbott (Phillips) and a more brazen type (Stacy Harris).

Meanwhile, Ceve falls in love with Carl Abbott’s beautiful and unhappy wife ( May Britt), and she with him.

Robert Mitchum with May Britt in ‘The Hunters’ 1958

The flying sequences are wonderful, filmed over the southwest United States giving the impression of great speed on the screen. Very few models were used – it was mostly real jets. Very exciting it was too

The Korean pursuers

BELOW – In a second attack one of the Korean vehicles is hit and bursts into flames.

A Korean vehicle is hit and bursts into flame

Sabre Jet

May Britt is the female lead.

In many ways I am reminded of a 20th Century Fox Film of a few years earlier – ‘D Day 6th June’ which starred Robert Taylor, Richard Todd and Dana Wynter. The conflict in that one was different but the storyline of a service man falling in love with his colleague’s wife was much the same.

Richard Egan and Robert Wagner

ABOVE – Robert Mitchum

ABOVE – Richard Egan

ABOVE – A Double Bill with ‘The Fly’ – Looking at all of the posters makes me realise that there were some vey good films released at that time

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An assortment of Horror Films

I was just browsing through various film topics that I always find interesting and entertaining and came across this assortment :

The Double Bill above just baffles me. I can’t recall these films at all.

It seems that the ‘Frankebnstein’ film was made in 1965 and gets reasoably good reviews. ‘Curse of the Voodoo’ also had the title ‘Curse of Simba’ and had none other than Denis Price in one of the leading roles. Reading what I could about it, it does seem to have had a good storyline

Movie Posters:Horror, Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster/Curse of the Voodoo Combo
(Allied Artists, 1965). Folded, Fine. One Sheet (27" X 41"). ...

‘Them’ a much better known film

ABOVE – Another big one from Universal with a great cast

ABOVE ‘Giant from the Unknown’ has Buddy Baer in it. He wrestled with that bull in ‘Quo Vadis’ to save Deborah Kerr

If you just want to be entertained in that magical 50’s B picture way….take a look at ‘Giant From the Unknown’.

In ‘She Demons’ the acting was average at best but the special effects and cinematography were good considering when this film was made.

‘Half Woman Half Beast’ seems to be a heading straight from the Horror films of that era.

Boris Karloff ABOVE

Above – ‘Them’ teamed up with The Bowery Boys as a supporting film ‘Clipped Wings’

‘The Gorgon’ a very good film from Hammer when they were at the peak of their success

Richard Pasco and Brabara Shelley starred

I well remember Richard Pasco from a much later film ‘The Watcher in the Woods’ made in England for Walt Disney. A film that I really like – well made and original

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Macabre 1958 – and another similar one

Before the film ‘Macabre’ gets under way in the Cinema – we are warned:

Narrator: Ladies and gentlemen – for the next hour and fifteen minutes, you will be shown things so terrifying that the management of this theatre is deeply concerned for your welfare. Therefore, we request that each of you assume the responsibility of taking care of your neighbour. If anyone near you becomes uncontrollably frightened, will you please notify the management so that medical attention can be rushed to their aid? Please set your watches. It is 6:45 in the evening in a town called Thornton…

William Castle was the Director :

The first of William Castle‘s “gimmick” films. In this one, admission included a $1000 insurance policy against “death by fright” issued by Lloyds of London.

People in a small US town think that a doctor (William Prince) is responsible for the death of his wife due to his incompetence. Someone is so angry about this that they have apparently kidnapped the doctor’s daughter and have buried her alive. The doctor must scramble to figure this one out–and the leads point to her being buried in the cemetery.

William Castle as the Doctor Rodney Barrett and Jacqueline Scott as Nurse Polly Baron

In the late 1950s, director/producer William Castle began releasing horror thrillers with amazing gimmicks- such as electrifying seats and shocking viewers in “The Tingler” or sending skeletons flying over the audience in “The House on Haunted Hill”. “Macabre” was the first of these- with insurance policies on the patrons because the film was supposedly THAT scary. Unfortunately, the film just wasn’t scary!

Some years ago, we went over to the Manchester Opera House to see a play with a plot line not unlike this.

The Play was ‘Dead Simple’ by Peter James and the story was a very frightening one – here is the up-front publicity :-

Michael Harrison had it all: good looks, charm, natural leadership, a wicked sense of humour, and now, Ashley, his fiancée. While out celebrating with a group of friends a few nights before the wedding, Michael suddenly and unexpectedly finds himself enclosed in a coffin equipped only with a flashlight, a dirty magazine, a walkie-talkie, and a tiny breathing tube. It’s all in good fun — payback for the grief his mates suffered due to his own penchant for tomfoolery — that is until the four are killed in a drunk driving accident just moments after leaving Michael completely alone and buried alive.

Detective Superintendent Grace—himself dealing with the pain of losing his wife—is brought on to the case when Ashley reports Michael missing. Suspicions are raised when Michael’s only friend not at the bachelor party refuses to cooperate, and Ashley’s faithfulness—not to mention her increasingly mysterious past—are suddenly thrown in to question. As Superintendent Grace soon discovers, one man’s disaster is another man’s fortune.

‘Dead Sinple’ has been dramatised on ITV Television with John Simm as Inspector Grace

ABOVE and BELOW :  Richie Campbell and John Simm

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